Car Boot sales are a very British thing, only we would think the best way to make money from our unwanted junk is to gather together with a bunch of other people (doing the same thing) and sell it out of the back of our cars. It’s like a real world Ebay, (without need to leave feedback ) and a truly fascinating thing to behold.
I had never been to one before I met my wife and when she suggested going one Sunday morning I was skeptical. It was early on in our relationship and I thought she had come up with the idea in an attempt to get rid of me, but it turned out my normally sane wife actually loves these things, and so my love/hate relationship with them began.
What I love about them is that you can go to any single boot sale and find a perfect cross section of the British public. Everyone from the poorest immigrant worker to the upper classes attend these things all in the hope of ether selling their stuff or finding a bargain. For some reason the trading of other peoples stuff is a cosmic leveler and creates a better social Harmony than anything else I have ever seen.
If you go to enough of these sales however you will start to notice patterns in the patrons, wherever the sale is held I guarantee you can break down the people who are there into one of the following groups:
1. The Professional: This person will be easy to spot, they will most likely be a man in his early 40s and will probably be wearing a blue tooth headset. The store itself will be laid out neatly with everything ordered for convenience of browsing. There will be no price tags on anything but he, (or his teenage assistant) will know the price of any product without hesitating. These people do this for a living, traveling from sale to sale selling their stock and picking up new things to sell. Prices will be set in stone, no haggling we be allowed and chances are you are not going to get any kind of bargain here.
2. The New Couple: They will be young, having just moved in together. I can bet that the woman in the relationship is forcing the man to sell all of his stuff that she hates, yes there will be some of her things there but it will be a token amount, this sale is all about getting rid of his bachelor crap. If this man in the couple is a geek then you have hit the jackpot here because the woman will have marked everything at around the £2.00 mark. DVD box sets, special editions, rare vinyl none of it matters to her she just wants shot of it. Bargains aplenty to be found here, just remember to give a sympathetic nod to the man – he will need it.
3. The Collector: He will be a nerd and an expert on whatever it is he is selling. He will probably have gone round all the other stalls before he started picking up stuff and then selling it on his stall at a higher price. Much like the professional he knows what he is doing and is best avoided unless you want a long conversation as to why he cannot possibly sell you that Star Wars figure for less that £30.
4. Old People: A bit of a catch all category but they will normally be retired and doing this as sort of a hobby. The man will be selling flowers he has grown in his garden and the woman will be selling cakes she has baked. Normally nice people and there stores are always crowded. You will get a bargain here but only if you are interested in flowers or cakes.
5. Del Boy and Rodney: For those of you that haven’t seen “Only Fools and Horses” these people are to be avoided at all costs. Yes they are selling electrical goods at insanely low prices but do you think they will work? And look I know you want to own Avatar before anyone else but that is a pirated copy not a “Chinese Import” as he will try to tell you. As I said above avoid at all costs.
6. Married with Children: The only other place you are likely to find a bargain. The couple here will probably have their kids with them (who will be complaining about selling their toys), be harassed and just want to get it over with. Chances are they are moving house and want a clear out before the do so. If they are an older couple be sure to check the box of toys, this is where you are going to find your missing arm for that Transformer you still have and don’t tell anyone about. Or that Masters of the Universe figure you never had as a kid and always wanted, it will only be 50p, knock yourself out.
So if you are in the UK and see a sign for one of these then go check it out, just remember to follow my handy guide to sellers and not go crazy. You do not need the Fully working Super Nintendo or Atari 2600* but that copy of Predator 2 for a £1 or that Bill Bryson book for 50p** – these are good purchases.
* We went to huge one in Wales yesterday and a guy was selling retro consoles and I was this close to buying these two and a bunch of games for them.
** I did buy these yesterday and a fully working scanner from “The New Couple category”, sympathetic nod given and understood.